In Contention

The top 10 shots of 2010: part two

Posted by · 10:49 am · February 23rd, 2011

In case you missed part one of this year’s top shots column, be sure to catch up before digging into the final five selections today.

As I mentioned yesterday, it wasn’t exactly a banner year for singular images from films in 2010. And that’s certainly not a crime. But more to the point, what I learned as I set about writing this piece was how deeply my personal experience of the year was reflected in my ultimate selections. It may have been tough to find what felt right for the list, but in some ways, the intensity of that digging ultimately illuminated the year’s work for me all the more.

How can I not be grateful for that? In the final analysis, perhaps a year that isn’t so obvious, without such a bevy of possibilities for this collective, yields a more measured and perhaps passionate consideration of the year in visual storytelling. Not to be highfalutin.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy the conclusion. Let’s dive in…


Director of Photography: Matthew Libatique

We ended up waiting to do that scene because we were going back and forth on what kind of presentation it was going to be. We talked about doing it on stage or some kind of abstract set, but I opted for spotlights and the black void. Simpler was better, though the camera rotated probably eight times, possibly more. Karma, I think, helped it out because we shot it in the same space they shot the death scene in ‘All That Jazz,’ which is one of my favorite films.

–Matthew Libatique

Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan,” like all of his works, is, in so many words, a masterfully shot film. He teamed up with lenser Matthew Libatique again after a one-film departure and the work behind the camera is some of the most potent of the year. And choosing one shot was tough.

There are plenty of compositions that are thematically relevant but fail to, I think, capture the essence of what makes the photography so special. I ultimately decided that the third shot of the film, which begins on Von Rothbart during a heightened, trance-like “Swan Lake” number and follows to capture his ballet duet with Natalie Portman’s Nina Sayers (and, to be clear, does include one “hidden” cut) establishes the language of the “oppressive” camera, as Libatique puts it, and that feather-like grace it maintains throughout.

Moreover, and granted, it comes early, but I think it is also the moment when it really registers for the audience that this will be a unique cinematic experience, if nothing else. And was it ever.


Director of Photograph: Roger Deakins

We storyboarded a few shots, tracking and looking down the street at dawn, which we actually did. But in the middle of the night, when we couldn’t do much else and were waiting to set up the dawn shot, we decided to do this side track-in. It’s kind of lovely the way the horse just whips through frame and then is gone and the snow sort of shifts around him. And that’s the one they used, I think because it’s so pure and simple. That was the whole thing about the film, really. It’s not fussy.

–Roger Deakins

No list such as this would be complete without serious consideration of a true modern master of the form, Roger Deakins. He just missed last year, but this year his work in the Coen brothers’ “True Grit” yielded one particular image that stood out from the get-go. Indeed, it’s the film’s first image (and much has been written of it since I spoke with him about it in December).

In so many ways it tells a story, with style and narrative power, helped by the exposition of narration, sure, but the simplicity (as noted in the quote above) is what makes it such a perfect composition. And in a film that, for me, lacked embossed visual power (mostly by design), I relished this particular frame.

And now Deakins is set to leave film behind, likely forever. He’s really turned on by what he’s up to on Andrew Niccol’s “Now” and he’s very happy with the kinds of tools at his disposal both there and in animation. If indeed he’s leaving celluloid behind, it’s been a hell of a ride. And I’m sure he’ll continue to dazzle on digital.


Director of Photography: Yorick Le Saux

We wanted the feel to be rich and majestic but not luxe. We didn’t want something that would look like a commercial, with too much light, too much brilliance…Luca [Guadagnino] is probably the most technical director I’ve worked with. He knows everything about cameras and lenses. I think he can tell you every special speed that Christopher Doyle used on a Wong Kar-wai movie in the Nineties!

–Yorick Le Saux (from American Cinematographer Magazine)*

I wasn’t particularly high on Luca Guadagnino’s “I Am Love” this year, but I certainly appreciated it for its design and photography. It’s actually a film full of vibrant images, but one stuck out above all the others.

After a day of obsessively stalking the object of her affection, Emma Recchi (played by Tilda Swinton) finally falls into the rabbit hole of forbidden love in a brief, clipped, stolen kiss filmed entirely out of focus. For some, it’s an arbitrary decision. But for me, it’s perhaps the most truthful visual depiction of the intoxication that comes with a moment like that, the guilt, the excitement and the passion swirling in the same glorious mixture.

Any number of the film’s wonderful images, captured by D.P. Yorick Le Saux, could have been tapped for this collective. But this one, I thought, was the most meaningful of the bunch, the most emotionally and thematically authentic, and above all, the most surprising.


Director of Photography: Benoît Debie

One of Gaspar’s great qualities is that he pushes you to experiment…If, for whatever reason, something doesn’t work out as he hoped, he will never reproach you. He tells you, ‘Let’s try it, and if it’s not good, tomorrow we’ll do something else.’ That allows you to take a lot of risks. He is searching, and he therefore pushes others to do the same.

–Benoît Debie, (from American Cinematographer Magazine)*

My pick for the year’s best cinematography was Benoît Debie’s work on Gaspar Noé’s “Enter the Void,” but narrowing a selection down for a piece such as this felt nearly impossible. The instinct is to say, “the whole film,” because it is another example of Noé’s penchant for flowing consistency with the camera, rather than intense editing.

However, the one shot that sticks out and really announces a unique visual vocabulary for the piece, unique even for Noé, comes during the first act break when the soul of lead character Oscar is sent on the journey the audience will observe for the next two hours. The camera floats up to a single naked light bulb, caught in the visual aroma of its illumination for a few hypnotic moments before turning back to the fallen Oscar, whatever force is behind it finally aware of its new place in the universe.

This kind of boundary-pushing, whether you love the film or hate it, is what is vital for the continued evolution of cinema. For some it might ring as gimmicky, but for me it is a true hallmark of expanding how we perceive this medium.


Director of Photography: Wally Pfister

Obviously it’s a very key storytelling thread. It acts as this ticking clock, an hourglass, and we knew the weight of the shot for our movie. Chris [Nolan] wanted to get the camera as slow as we possibly could, and it really is our general philosophy on everything we’re doing on these films is to try and get it in camera. We went down to San Pedro and it seemed like a perfect place. It was just enough of a drop, they allowed us to do it and it sort of fit in with our shoot-up leading up to it.

–Wally Pfister

Sometimes a year-topping shot for me is all about identity, like last year’s pick, which came to define as a visual reference point. Sometimes it’s well-achieved complexity, like 2008’s winner. Other times it’s simple striking beauty and iconography, like 2007’s winner.

This year, it was about implementation and, admittedly, a consideration partly owed to film editing. But the image from “Inception” of a van falling in slow-motion served, as Wally Pfister notes above, as a brilliant timing mechanism for a film entirely built upon its chronology, both narratively and, in some ways, thematically.

I admit to cheating somewhat, as it’s not just the take above that director Christopher Nolan and editor Lee Smith continuously cut to throughout the film’s third act, but a couple of angles. (The drop was executed twice and multiple cameras were staged all around for multiple options.) Nevertheless, no image meant as much when it flashed on the screen this year, and for that reason alone, it seemed the best choice for me as shot of the year.

That about wraps it up.  I hope the wait was worth it for you, and thanks for your patience. If you haven’t yet, feel free to offer up your picks for the year’s best shots in the comments section below.

*Yorick Le Saux and Benoît Debie were unavailable for original comment.


The top 10 shots of 2014

The top 10 shots of 2013

The top 10 shots of 2012

The top 10 shots of 2011

The top 10 shots of 2010

The top 10 shots of 2009

The top 10 shots of 2008

The top 10 shots of 2007

[Photos: Fox Searchlight Pictures, Magnolia Pictures, Paramount Pictures, IFC Films, Warner Bros. Pictures]

→ 68 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

68 responses so far

  • 1 2-23-2011 at 10:55 am

    Barrett said...

    Great list! Especially #1

  • 2 2-23-2011 at 10:56 am

    KO9 said...

    Man, we were spoiled in 2007.

    But Kris is right, there weren’t too many shots that stood out this year.

    That being said, there were a handful from Dogtooth that I thought would’ve made the list.

    Looking forward to next year’s installment!

  • 3 2-23-2011 at 11:00 am

    Kevin K. said...

    Loved the choices this year. Especially the shots from True Grit, Black Swan, and Inception. There was an overhead crane-shot from Shutter Island that takes place when Teddy and Chuck are walking through the rain to the graveyard. For some reason, that shot has always stuck out to me and really spoke to the Hitchcockian-visual identity of Marty’s film.

    Inception has so many great choices, but that van shot really does stand out. Also the water flooding the castle in the beginning. Something about the symmetry of that shot always struck me. Almost any shot of a spinning top, especially the *SPOILER* final shot is really indicative of the identity and visual motifs of the film.

    Great job this year! Love this column and the work you put into it! Keep it up man!

  • 4 2-23-2011 at 11:07 am

    Rashad said...

    Without question, the top shot of the year is when Arthur walks into the hotel room and sees everyone floating. The he rounds them up. Haven’t been so impressed in a while.

    Also Toy Story 3’s incinerator scene was powerful.

  • 5 2-23-2011 at 11:08 am

    Marc R. said...

    Love your black swan and true grit choices and there’s no denying the potency of the inception shot. But i think my favorite shot of the year is the shot of Ryan Gosling standing at the doorway and you can’t see what he’s looking at, but you can see in his eyes that it’s something special. Not the prettiest shot, but the composition and the look on Gosling’s face just did it for me

  • 6 2-23-2011 at 11:10 am

    N8 said...

    I knew from Oscartalk that the van drop was on your list, but I never thought it would be #1. Interesting choice.

  • 7 2-23-2011 at 11:22 am

    Duncan Houst said...

    The first time I saw that shot from “True Grit” I knew it would be on this list, no matter what! “Black Swan” is a difficult one to peg, and I think I’m caught between that shot from the beginning and a similar shot towards the end. The “Inception” shot quite honestly went over my head until you placed it at #1. There are ways this could’ve been done wrong, and I’m glad it wasn’t.

  • 8 2-23-2011 at 11:24 am

    Daniel said...

    Simple as it may be, I love the shot from True Grit where Mattie is looking up into the light while trapped in the snake pit. Awesome shot. Nothing special about it. Just really pretty.

  • 9 2-23-2011 at 11:35 am

    Hans said...

    Great wrap-up Kris. Haven’t seen Enter the Void or I am Love but the shots here make me want to even more.

    Just curious, do you have any runner-up shits to offer up?

  • 10 2-23-2011 at 11:36 am

    Hans said...

    Shots! SHOTS!! Damn you, autocorrect!

  • 11 2-23-2011 at 11:40 am

    Andrej said...

    From Black Swan, my favorite shot’s when Nina’s fully transformed and while she dances, she looks straights to the camera with her eyes wide open. Chilling.

    True Grit’s initial shot and the narration it conveys, with the music and all… wow. Way to start a movie, really great. Sadly I didn’t feel the movie managed to keep up with the initial momentum, especially in replays.

    The outdoor sex scene in I Am Love, though it’s a bit too long, it struck me as a far classier version of The Reader’s sex scenes. It’s very nicely put together.

    That shot in Enter the Void is damn iconic, though I kinda felt that by how Oscar’s feets were placed against the door, his pose looked a bit forced to me. Regardless, it’s a great, haunting shot.

    And the falling van from Inception… didn’t know the technical facts behind it, and I was blind to its narrative connections. Very impressive work, indeed. Awesome choices. ☺

  • 12 2-23-2011 at 11:41 am

    Brian said...

    For me, it has to be the shot of Michelle Williams at the abortionist clinic. The ability of the scene to shock me, while at the same time restraining itself from any unnecessarily vulgar visuals is something that has stayed with me for a long time.

  • 13 2-23-2011 at 11:49 am

    AJ said...

    No TSN? A shot from the title scene would be my #1, I think. Henley Regatta, too.
    Some shots that stayed in my mind:
    True Grit-LaBoeuf lighting up on the porch.
    Black Swan-Final note of the dance with wings spread.
    Inception-Folding Paris or the mirrors.
    Winter’s Bone-walking through the woods.
    Blue Valentine- Ryan singing and Michelle tap dancing.
    Rabbit Hole-Nicole and the boy walking across the park. Or the comic book.

  • 14 2-23-2011 at 11:55 am

    Brian said...

    Ditto to AJ’s Black Swan and Blue Valentine shout outs.

  • 15 2-23-2011 at 11:55 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I had considered a shot from TSN and even talked to Jeff about it, but as I said to him, it’s a film that isn’t given to single eye-popping shots, more than overall classy photography.

  • 16 2-23-2011 at 12:01 pm

    P-Dawg said...

    Great list, man. I still need to see a couple of the movies mentioned but each shot seemed justified and worthy of note. Like everyone else, I have to offer up one shot that stood out to me this year — the opening shot of “Get Low”, with the burning house and the fiery silhouette running across the frame. Not that this shot was particularly complex but it was haunting and sets up the entire movie.

  • 17 2-23-2011 at 12:04 pm

    Wigman said...

    No love for “Let Me In”? The shot from inside the car as Richard Jenkins tries to attack the young student, was definitely one that stands out. Yes some of the cinematography was ripped from the original, but I think they also came up with some original work too. Kris, what did you think of “Let Me In”?

  • 18 2-23-2011 at 12:05 pm

    James W. said...

    Great choice for #1.

  • 19 2-23-2011 at 12:08 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I do love the shot from inside the car in Let Me In. In fact, I think I was the first to mention that new creativity at Comic-Con last year:

    But it didn’t grab me when I sat down to do this, I guess.

  • 20 2-23-2011 at 12:29 pm

    Duncan Houst said...

    I just had a massive conversation with my brother on cinematography and how it only truly excels when not affected by visual effects or editing. What makes all these shots so brilliant, aside from their context within their respective films, is how they were done for real, without going the easy way out with visual effects. It’s amazing how some people don’t get what makes an individual shot so textured, complex, or important.

  • 21 2-23-2011 at 12:46 pm

    DylanS said...

    Some personal selections:
    “Inception”- Leo stares onward as the room begins to flood during the opening collapsing dream sequence. Both an iconic image and quite the “wow” moment.
    “Black Swan”- I dont feel the need to look any further than the films very first frame, Nina in a dancers pose shot from a distance with the spotlight on her, a shot that I’m glad was done in super16, which I know irks Kris.
    “Shutter Island”- Michelle Williams crubling to dust while being held in Leo’s arms. The majority of Richardson’s work on te film is strikingly goregous, but that is both the films only genuine scene of emotion (a credit to the actors) as well as the only effective dreamlike imagery)
    “127 Hours”- Aaron and the two girls diving into the underground pool. A shot I liked on seeing the trailer for the first time.

  • 22 2-23-2011 at 12:47 pm

    Maxim said...

    Really hope that Deakins continues to make films shot on films. It’s way, way too early to abandon it.

  • 23 2-23-2011 at 12:49 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    What do you mean with the “hidden” cut in Black Swan?

  • 24 2-23-2011 at 12:51 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    There’s a cut when Rothbart transforms.

  • 25 2-23-2011 at 12:52 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Dylan: Actually, I’m okay with the Super 16 in that sequence.

  • 26 2-23-2011 at 12:56 pm

    San FranCinema said...

    I love this feature (as well as looking back on previous years’ lists).

    A couple of my favorites:

    127 Hours (agree with Dylan — the shot from above into the pool with the girls… you can see it at :45 here

    and The Social Network (possibly the shot of the algorithm written on the window, shot from the outside in)

  • 27 2-23-2011 at 1:22 pm

    Cordy said...

    I will say one shot i loved just for the look of it was in Another Year.

    When Joe, Tom and Ken are golfing, and it is Joe’s last putt and teh camera is just on their feet and shadows it just struck a chord with me. Simply a beautiful way to capture the conversation and a putt in a very relaxed movie, while I did notice some comedy in the shadows alone.

  • 28 2-23-2011 at 1:41 pm

    Fitz said...

    It may be cliche but I really enjoyed the hallway scene in Inception.

  • 29 2-23-2011 at 1:42 pm

    DylanS said...

    To Maxim’s comment. While I like digital photography more often than not myself, and as an aspiring filmmaker, intend to use it myself. I think at the higher levels of filmmaking, it should be a purely asthetic choice, as celluloid and digital create two entirely different looks, and not purely an issue of cost. I know the wish will never be granted, but Cinema as an artform will suffer if film stock becomes extinct.

  • 30 2-23-2011 at 1:42 pm

    Samuel said...

    One of my favourites was the shot in Blue Valentine when Dean comes into Cindy’s work towards the end and leans into the reception window. They are facing each other but reflections in the window make it look like they are looking the same direction. It does a great job of capturing their inabilty to communicate and the turn their relationship has taken – they inhabit the same space but can’t face each other.

    As an aside, it’s such a cleaner, nicer site with all the FYC ads vanishing into thin air.

  • 31 2-23-2011 at 1:52 pm

    Jeremy said...

    Good list. I would have added the aerial shot from “The Square” that gradually pushes in on the burning house. I’d also likely have included something from “The American”, though it may have to difficult to select a particular image. And finally, the snake sequence in “Deathly Hallows” (which I know you haven’t seen) makes brilliant use of suddenly harsh lighting in a film shrouded by constant darkness.

  • 32 2-23-2011 at 2:06 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    The only thing from The American (a beautifully shot film) that had real thematic relevance to me was the final image, but that was a bit on the nose.

  • 33 2-23-2011 at 2:17 pm

    ann said...

    Kinda surprised by number 1, i was expecting black swan, but hey awesome choices.

  • 34 2-23-2011 at 3:34 pm

    Bennett said...

    I really hoped you had included the shot from Black Swan where the camera’s on a mirror after Lily and Nina’s night out, and it seems like Lily comes out of Nina. That was far and away my favorite of the year.

    I think you or someone else on this site commented on it previously, am I wrong? Great list anyway.

  • 35 2-23-2011 at 3:38 pm

    Speaking English said...

    ***When Joe, Tom and Ken are golfing, and it is Joe’s last putt and teh camera is just on their feet and shadows it just struck a chord with me.***

    Yes! That was an excellent shot, and one of many in “Another Year.” Another one I would single out from that film is towards the end, during the winter portion and after the funeral when Tom, Gerri, Ronnie, and Joe are standing in a room, all positioned in different places and on different planes. It’s kind of hard to describe, but the shot is held for a couple minutes and it’s fantastic.

  • 36 2-23-2011 at 3:48 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Weirdly my favorite shot in Another Year (which was considered) was a shot of the whole family after the funeral, like some somber, but beautiful, family portrait.

    Great cinematography in that one.

  • 37 2-23-2011 at 3:52 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Uh… wow. Look up. :)

  • 38 2-23-2011 at 4:03 pm

    Fitz said...

    It may be a cliche pick but I really enjoyed the hallway scene in Inception.

    I may have felt so-so about Black Swan in general, but damn that was a beautiful film.

  • 39 2-23-2011 at 4:05 pm

    LINA said...

    BLACK SWAN had the best shots of the year. SPOILERS after this:

    1. Black Swan spreading the wings
    2. The mirror scene, mixing Nina and Lily
    3. The mirror scene, arms not reflecting themselves
    4. The broken ballerina toy
    5. Man masturbating in subway

    Definitely #1 is the best shot of the year. Sad In Contention didn’t pick it. If you were going to pick an Inception shot, you could have chosen the last totem moment before ending credits. I am love also had great images, specially those when Tilda Swinton’s character is walking alone in the house.

  • 40 2-23-2011 at 4:28 pm

    yer said...


    maybe next year.

  • 41 2-23-2011 at 4:32 pm

    Antonio A said...

    Some favorites:
    Black Swan- Nina spreads her wings and its shadows appear behind in the stage
    True Grit- Jeff gallops through the night holding Mattie
    Salt- a police vehicle crashes with Angelina in the backseat
    Let Me In- Owen walks backwards from the bathroom’s bloody door
    The Ghost Writer- The whole shot/scene when Brosnan’s character is murdered at the airport
    A Prophet- Malik dreams a confrontation between him and Reyeb and everything looks like some kind of oil painting in motion
    127 Hours- An image of a meteorite followed by Aron falling slowly into the narrow canyon

  • 42 2-23-2011 at 4:45 pm

    Duncan Houst said...

    I honestly don’t get everyone’s fascination with the shot of Nina transforming into the Black Swan. That was much more of a visual effects spectacle than a cinematography spectacle, and didn’t strike me as wildly as the shots where the camera was spinning so wonderfully around Nina.

    I haven’t funneled through the vaults of cinema to isolate my favorite shots, and people are obviously going to remember what they can bring to mind immediately. I admire the care you put into this segment.

  • 43 2-23-2011 at 5:33 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Great minds I guess, English. :)

  • 44 2-23-2011 at 5:56 pm

    Nelson said...

    A shot from Black Swan that I LOVED that I haven’t seen mentioned was when she was looking in the really dark reflection of the subway, the first time it was pretty scary, then the second time she puts on her make-up which shows her starting the transformation into the Black Swan. In a movie filled with amazing shots, that one stuck out both times I saw it.

    True Grit didn’t even crack my top 10 list of the year but I certainly think it had the best cinematography. I loved the shot from the beginning as Brolin’s character was riding away in the dark blue.

  • 45 2-23-2011 at 5:57 pm

    Nelson said...

    Also, where do you get ahold of these specific shot images? Certainly this is more than just a Google image search.

  • 46 2-23-2011 at 6:25 pm

    RealDogBoy said...

    True Grit: Mattie riding Little Blackie out of the dark barn, loaded up for her trip — with the V.O. of her letter to her mother (which isn’t in the book.)

    The King’s Speech: King George VI walks to the special chamber Logue prepared to give his big wartime speech.

  • 47 2-23-2011 at 7:03 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Nelson, I’d imagine they’re shots taken from the screeners.

  • 48 2-23-2011 at 7:43 pm

    Alex L. said...

    AAAAHHH!!!!! Antonio A. you just spoiled the ghost writer for me!!!!!!! AAAAHHHH Next time declare that spoilers lay ahead.

  • 49 2-23-2011 at 8:07 pm

    Antonio A said...

    ^ Sorry :( The movie is great anyway, see it!

  • 50 2-23-2011 at 8:45 pm

    Glenn said...

    Great shot from “I Am Love”. That entire movie could fill this list. As for “True Grit”, I would’ve gone with the shot of the man hanging high in the forest.

    Yet again, this was a great read Kris. May you keep doing it for as long as IC is around. Love it.

  • 51 2-23-2011 at 9:31 pm

    Patriotsfan said...

    My favorite shot of the year is when Zuckerberg and Parker are talking inside the San Fransisco nightclub, and Sean tells Mark the story of the guy who founded Victoria’s Secret. First of all, I really like the lighting of the scene, but what I love most is the contrast of intimate feeling of the shot, and the loud, posh impersonal surroundings. It really mirrors a sort of muted excitement (something like, “I can’t believe I’m about to start a revolution”) that is palpable in Mark’s eyes.

  • 52 2-24-2011 at 2:28 am

    Jason Travis said...

    Right film, wrong shots. Even Black Swan. I don’t remember that one at all. There were a good 5 other shots that stood out way more, including the shot where Portman’s eyes change color, or the scene where she removed a feather from her fingernail. That blurred shot from I Am Love? Really? Come on. With all the lovely shots showing Swinton in the Oscar-nominated costumes, you chose to showcase a weird out of focus blender. Hmmm.

  • 53 2-24-2011 at 5:22 am

    Manny said...

    I’d also like to mention The American (a vastly underrated film). The opening title sequence with a shadowed silhouette Clooney driving headlong into the blinding white light at the end of the tunnel (even so much that when the title appears, “The American” is black in a sea of white) is the epitome of the whole film. Right there. A man trying to escape the entrapment of the shadows of his past and present and move into the light of something better.

  • 54 2-24-2011 at 9:17 am

    Average Joe said...

    How can you not remember that shot/opening sequence from Black Swan? Like Kris, it was the moment I knew that the film was something special. The way the camera circled around Portman was so graceful and so powerful.

  • 55 2-24-2011 at 9:25 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Jason: What are you, 12? We went a whole two days without an annoying comment like that on this column, but I knew one was coming…

    Do tell me the thematic relevance of an arbitrary shot of someone in a COSTUME, though. Dying to know. And eyes changing color? Really? This isn’t a film school wannabe “wow cool shot!” collective. A little thought never hurt anyone. But I think I was clear in each entry why I picked what I did. Feel free to offer up your own list.

  • 56 2-24-2011 at 3:28 pm

    Georgia said...

    This is a great series. I understand that a lot of thought and effort goes into it, a large task that could make a person tired before they even begin. But it’s so interesting, and enriches the whole conversation. Thanks again for continuing it.

  • 57 2-24-2011 at 4:23 pm

    THE Diego Ortiz said...

    The shot from MACHETE when the guy’s intestine is getting ripped out. Did you know that the human intestine is 60ft long?

  • 58 2-24-2011 at 4:47 pm

    JJ1 said...

    My favorites of these 10 were ‘Black Swan’, ‘Enter the Void’, and ‘The King’s Speech’. Great choices there, Kris.

  • 59 2-24-2011 at 4:48 pm

    Alex L. said...

    Kris, Since we all love this segment so much, maybe you can do a thing where you do a shot of the month from a movie you have seen in that month whether it be in theatrical release or not. And we get the same breakdown as above for the one shot. So then we don’t have to wait a year lol (:

  • 60 2-24-2011 at 6:27 pm

    The Q-Mann said...

    I was wondering which Inception shot you’d choose, and after reading the breakdown, that was definitely the perfect choice not just from the flick but for #1.

    One thing I notice (and admire) from these columns each year is how you tend to steer away from a lot of obvious choices. Not just in shots you don’t choose (like any of the numerous other great shots from Black Swan that have been mentioned) but shots you choose instead (like your choice from Precious last year). A lot of thought is put into these lists each time around and though some exclusions may hurt (*cough* Inglourious Basterds *cough* Shosanna laughing in the smoke *cough*) you stick to your guns and make a strong case for each, which makes for a worthy list.

    This list is worth the wait every year. Kudos, Kris.

  • 61 2-25-2011 at 8:20 pm

    Wes said...

    I agreed with everything, except I wish there was room for the shot from Blue Valentine where Ryan Gosling is playing the ukelele while Michelle Williams dances. SO beautiful.

  • 62 2-26-2011 at 3:25 am

    Mimi Rogers said...

    What? No shots from Social Network huh?

  • 63 2-26-2011 at 4:27 am

    Rex Wynn said...

    Inception was so WOW…when i think or feel the best shots of films i’ve seen the first ones that come to mind resonated with many aspects of the collaboration (the last 15 minutes of Black Swan – great shots AND mansell’s adaptation! amazing; last 10 minutes of 127 hours, shots plus sound/sigur ros = POWERFUL; Inception – van in slo mo sequence with Zimmer’s score – falling off my seat with anticipation). Reading what i’ve typed so far, i might be in the wrong section! this is not about the music, however, if the shots are great and the sound/music is great i FEEL those shots more than others that might be just as great without amazing audio…is there a “BEST COLLABORATION OF AUDIO/VISUAL SHOT/SCENE?” or something similar? ok back on topic…haven’t seen Enter the Void yet tho Irresistible sucked me in…so, some top shots:


    1.Inception – many – Arthur fighting in hallway shots, arthur floating everyone out room down hallway in zero gravity, van falling slo mo, cobb informs fisher he is dreaming at the bar and things start slanting, train moving down the street tearing asphalt
    2.Black Swan – many – Nina picking hangnail and pulling skin off, Nina sidestage removing her black veil feeling metamorphosis, hallucination shots before her premiere
    3.shutter island – many – laeddis interviewing patient who asks for glass of water and drinks nothing placing real glass down (3 shots), dream sequence with wife turning to ash, patient giving andrew the ‘shhhh’, car exploding while andrew’s wife and daughter remain, guard warning them of ward C then running off laughing
    4.winter’s bone – teardrop is asking the state trooper ‘is this our time?’ and his face in the mirror, ree holding her father’s second arm to hack off
    5.true grit – man hanging from tree, mattie looking up from the mineshaft
    6.scott pilgrim vs. the world – many shots, almost every fight sequence network – club shot with zuckerberg and parker talking victoria’s secret
    8.127 hours – jumping into pool with girls, cutting nerve, aron yelling ‘i need some help!’ to hikers
    9.killer inside me – lou ford repeatedly punching joyce in the face, lou standing with joyce with knife still in her and both are shot as house burns around them
    10.kick-ass – big daddy shooting hit girl in chest in reservoir, hit girl as first person shooter killing guys with night vision

  • 64 2-28-2011 at 12:12 am

    Jasper said...

    I just saw The Housemaid and can see some shots from that film shouldn’t be forgotten next year when doing thw 2011 list. The movie overall was somewhat meh, but it was beautifully shot.

  • 65 4-17-2011 at 11:38 am

    Duncan Houst said...

    I occasionally wish you’d go back and do a “Top 10 Shots” piece for 2006. Then I think about how much work goes into the pieces, and I’m happy with what we’ve got.